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  1. #1
    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    Fixed Gear + Air Travel

    Yes, yes, there's a plethora of posts regarding packing and shipping your bike in one box, but I might be doing things differently, and I'm pretty curious to see if there's any tips regarding shipping things in multiple boxes.

    I'm going to be flying soon, and would love to bring my bike. Luckily, I'll be flying southwest, which allows for two checked bags, as well as a carry on.

    First and foremost, I've heard that unless the box is grossly over the "62 linear inch" limit, they'll let it on without even checking, as long as it's under 50lbs. If anyone can confirm/deny this, that would save me the extra trouble of two boxes, but I'm guessing it's hit or miss.

    Anyway, if this doesn't work, I was thinking I could check my bike as two separate packages: one with just the frame/some components, one with the wheelset, other components, and tools. Or I could even use thick cellophane packaging material and bubble wrap on the frame/fork so baggage handlers can see it's a bike, as opposed to tossing around some light box marked "fragile"

    Does anyone have any other ideas, and are there any major differences in packing just a frameset, or just a wheelset, as opposed to packing the whole lot in one box? What do y'all think the best way to get my bike home would be?
    Last edited by seejohnbike; 08-18-10 at 07:06 PM.
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Oooh, that's a tough one. I didn't like UPS bringing my new bike 350 miles to me the way they handle things. I've had friends that sent surfboards to Costa Rica for surf trips and those were pretty beat up too when they got there. Supposedly UPS bent the forks on the first delivery and that was a Vilano from St Augustine to Miami, FL.

    Anyway, if you weren't going to fly it with SW Airlines, you could always UPS, DHL or Fed Ex it ?

  3. #3
    Senior Member vw addict's Avatar
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    so you just said how bad UPS was, then suggested it?

  4. #4
    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    I'm flying southwest for sure, and given the 2 checked bag limit + carryon (clothes for my trip in a big mess bag), I'm sure I could bring it with me in at least one box if they let it slide, and I could very likely be able to do it in two boxes, and actually fit within the size limits, too. Those are the constraints of this thought exercise.
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

  5. #5
    . xavier853's Avatar
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    Airlines care probably even less about care with boxes than UPS or FEDEX. I say if you can ship it, do that.

  6. #6
    Senior Member vw addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xavier853 View Post
    Airlines care probably even less about care with boxes than UPS or FEDEX. I say if you can ship it, do that.
    I ship and receive stuff everyday both fedex and UPS (and others), I wouldn't recommend it.

  7. #7
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    He asked for options, UPS service quality varies from region to region. That is I know people who swear by UPS in the mid atlantic states and NE.But for some reason I've had several damaged shipments from them. In that case down here, I swear by Fed Ex. I get computer parts from NewEgg in California and they use Fed Ex, never had a problem with them. UPS is a union shop too. they have to deliver it 3 times before you can pick it up at the Hialeah, FL hub if they miss you at home. Fed Ex, they let you pick it up same day if you miss their delivery with the door notice they left. DHL, they discontinued service in Miami, FL, so they basically bring it to Ft Lauderdale or Hollywood/Hallandale, FL & turn it over the USPS. Take your pick, local knowledge helps in some cases. I would've thought they had standard service for quality, doesn't work out that way all the time ? Funny too, stuff that leaves California, depending upon the routing, could wind up going to Canada, then sent down to Dallas, TX then over to Nashville, TN down to Jax, FL or Orlando, FL. Point is your package would logically go coast to coast in a straighter line, sometimes winds up taking the long way and scenic route home by racking up frequent flyer miles.

    Personally, I wouldn't send my bike anywhere. But since he has to have it, how long he will be where he's going, I won't be the one to stand in his way of accomplishing his objective.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by vw addict View Post
    I ship and receive stuff everyday both fedex and UPS (and others), I wouldn't recommend it.
    I see we're on the same page there. A friend of mine is a photographer and we went from Ft Lauderdale to Phoenix to SLC to LA and back with his photo equipment, he used both a combination of SW Airlines & Jet Blue along with FedEx to get stuff around on the trip and there were no issues. Perhaps packing it right is more key than anything else ?

  9. #9
    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    Fuji: most major shipping companies use a hub and spoke model for their logistics. sometimes it means your packages take the scenic route, which seems inefficient for your single package, but when hundreds of thousands of packages are moving about, and via large (truck, plane, etc) vehicles, its the quickest/most efficient way the shipping co. can operate.

    Everyone: no shipping companies. In other cases, they work, but this time around I'm thinking it's going to be much easier for me to just bring it on the plane. Besides, I can continue to ride my bike before I leave, and once I get back, seeing as how I won't have to wait for it to get to me, and I can effectively ride to the airport, and box it up on the spot.

    I'm concerned as anybody else regarding how it will be treated when it goes through baggage handling, but I'm confident that if I pack it well, or smartly (maybe the clear cellophane/bubblewrap route?), I'll be able to accomplish taking my bike with me, and not have to incur extra overhead of shipping it.
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

  10. #10
    Oscillation overthruster Dr. Banzai's Avatar
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    I've flown twice this year with my bike. I showed up with no box and they just gave me a bag to wrap around it and put it on "special instructions". It was hand delivered to the plane. I chose a seat to watch the bike get loaded. I was quite impressed. Both times it was hassle free other than only having a stupid hand pump to reinflate at my destination.

    This will not be your airline, but just a little story to show that if you sweet talk the ticket agent and make their day pleasant you can get away with almost anything.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seejohnbike View Post
    Fuji: most major shipping companies use a hub and spoke model for their logistics. sometimes it means your packages take the scenic route, which seems inefficient for your single package, but when hundreds of thousands of packages are moving about, and via large (truck, plane, etc) vehicles, its the quickest/most efficient way the shipping co. can operate.
    Definitely understand the whole hub concept, to them it doesn't matter what the shortest route is, they have planes that route from various locations/destinations and if it's overnight, 2 day or 3 day delivery they send it where the planes are going to and heading towards the next destination to get it there eventually. That said, with air turbulence, those extra air miles, not to mention the next location that loads off and on are an extra risk for damage or that it even fails to be loaded at a particular point ? And that doesn't mean that at one airport the plane doesn't land harder and what it's loaded with for that particular flight doesn't crush the box or damage it in some way ? That's why I'd leave mine home, that's just me though. The cost might be such that renting a bike somewhere might be more cost effective ?

  12. #12
    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    jeez banzai, what airline is that?

    and I try to be nothing but courteous to ticket agents, flight staff, etc etc. My plan is to show up with bike, some tools, packaging materials, and duct tape. If they wont take it unboxed, i'll try one box. If not 1 box, then 2, and so on...
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

  13. #13
    Senior Member vw addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuji86 View Post
    Perhaps packing it right is more key than anything else ?
    believe me, I am a Jedi Knight when it comes to packaging, it's my job. Sometimes it just doesn't matter, they will f it up no matter what.

  14. #14
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    So true VW, boxes that start out as perfect cubes wind up looking like accordions. And the weight of bike parts doesn't help, regardless of whether it's marked fragile. Was it intentional ? Maybe the loaders were just gung ho and started unloading and loading because they have schedule and deadlines too. With as much as these guys move around, we'd like to think they handle our package like it was a new born infant, but it's just not the case.

  15. #15
    Banana-tastic! JesusBananas's Avatar
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    John, most airlines charge a fee for checking bikes. Depending on the airline, it can be around $50-100+. There will be info on the website if this applies. The bike needs to be packed usually, although a regular cardboard bike box is fine (as opposed to $200 hard cases for people who travel a lot).

    Due to this cost, it is often cheaper to ship the bike. I have used both Fedex and UPS (~$60), and they were both fine for me. I have two friends who checked their bikes on US Airways (I believe), which was also fine, albeit more expensive at $100 per bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by striknein View Post
    The banana has spoken.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    "This rides nearly as nicely as your mom."

  16. #16
    Oscillation overthruster Dr. Banzai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seejohnbike View Post
    jeez banzai, what airline is that?
    WestJet. I'm simply in love with them. Free bike travel rules.

  17. #17
    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    Way ahead of you, 'nanners. As per southwest's baggage allowances:
    2 checked items, without additional fees, pending:
    -items weigh less than 50 lbs
    AND
    -items do not exceed 62 linear inches (height + width + length)

    Items over these allowances (such as sporting goods, bikes included) shall be charged a $50 oversize fee. However, if stuff like sporting goods manages to fit within the aforementioned criteria, it can fly without additional charges.

    So, as mentioned, I'm thinking of packing the frame/fork in a slender box, and can hopefully just fit that within the 62 inch limit, and everything else in another box. Neither box will come close to topping 50lbs, and if all goes right, everything will be within size limits, too. They don't necessarily need to know it's a bike, and I don't necessarily need to draw any attention to any items that are just barely over the size limits. Catchin my drift?
    Last edited by seejohnbike; 08-19-10 at 03:36 PM.
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

  18. #18
    Banana-tastic! JesusBananas's Avatar
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    Ah, well, isn't that clever. If it works, bully for you then.
    Quote Originally Posted by striknein View Post
    The banana has spoken.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    "This rides nearly as nicely as your mom."

  19. #19
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Don't fly Delta Airlines. They want $200 for a bike...EACH WAY. Jerks.

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